|Vol. 1999 No. 5
Now that so many get our newsletter through the Internet, we would like to deal with some basics. Ministering to anyone can be difficult. It can be tougher writing or visiting an inmate. Probably as high as 40% of the inmate population in the U.S. is in a lockdown status-meaning all but an hour a day is spent in their cells. Most are two- or three-person cells. Some have TVs, many do not, meaning they are not aware of your world and don't know how to tell you about theirs. Ask lots of questions about prison life, not as if prying, but show a genuine interest.
Do not ask why they are in prison. If they tell you, say Praise God. Some of their cases are really shocking and fear of losing a friend stops them from confiding in you.
This is a ministry. Inmates in prison have little and try to get help. That's O.K. if you can afford a little once in awhile. If every letter is asking for money or things, then it may be time to change Pen Friends. If we match you with someone you don't get along with, let us know and we will use your talents elsewhere with a new friend for both. Remember, they do not understand the world you live in any more than you do theirs. Most say they are not guilty; a great many are telling the truth. Some say as high as 30% of those in prison are not guilty of the crime they are there for. Fear, ignor- ance, and lack of money puts most in prison.
WALK A MILE IN OUR SHOES
You start your day early with a 45-minute drive to the prison. You check in, go through the metal detectors, and draw your keys to Hell. As you walk across the yard, you can almost smell fear and hate. Thank God the inmates know who we are and the greetings are mostly nice, but Satan's recruits want to get you gone. You stop and talk to an inmate here and there, always inviting him to a better way. We might preach or teach, or just listen to the massive hurt and deep loneliness of men wanting so badly to put together those broken pieces. In prison, men and women have very little chance to release the hurt they feel inside. Some of the things we hear are totally frightening, but they trust us. We are Grandma and Grandpa to many, Ma and Pa to others. We are sisters and brothers to all. We, like God, hate the sin and learn to love the sinner. We also have a chance to talk to officers who, just like the inmates, need someone to talk to.
How things can change in a heartbeat, however. Several weeks ago all was quiet and two men got into it, and soon the two were a hundred. Thank God there were no weapons and no one was seriously hurt. Then came the hated lockdown where all, for the madness of a few, are kept in their cells for days.
Dear Friends and fellow Christians, your response to our appeal for Bibles was great, but we need 173 used STUDY BIBLES for advanced students.
If any of you requested a Pen Friend, we are playing catch up and you will be matched soon. God Bless You. Because of YOU, Someone Cares. The God Squad web page: www.someonecares.org
We need used STUDY BIBLES for advanced students. A study Bible has a concordance and explanatory references at the bottom of each page, as a rule. We have some inmates who have stayed with their study programs in spite of a lack of church services for several years, and they also need full concordances, such as Strong's, sets of Bible commentaries, etc. Please ask your church members and other friends to check their libraries for spare reference books.
Also we need a used prisner for a MacIntosh Computer. God Bless. [Sometimes Don's fingers don't keep up with his train of thought, and he said I could keep this bit of humor intact. He assured me that they've already received a used PRINTER for Yvonne's Mac.]
On the serious side, we do need pastors and/or volunteers to visit in prisons. One is urgently needed at the moment at the Soledad, CA facility.
This is the time of year that we all look forward to Mother's and Father's day as we can all reflect on how much they have given of time, patience, love, and last but not least, money, to help us become the persons we are today. I am so grateful for good Christian parents and grandparents, and their Christian friends who helped me along life's path. I pray we all take time to let people know how much they have meant to us over the years. There is no time like now to say Thank You.
Most of you parents are familiar with the words; "I'll do it in a minute, but first..." Our Heavenly
Father often receives a similar response from His children. Oh, I am so guilty of that, and then I
forget what I was supposed to do. I'll never forget my inner battle one morning as I was on my knees
scrubbing my kitchen floor. It began with a strong impression from the Lord that I should go and
check on my next door neighbor, Delores. I told myself I'd do it later, after I finished scrubbing the floor.
Then the inner prompting began to feel more urgent. "As soon as I finish the floor, I'll go next door," I
promised the Lord. But deep inside, I knew He meant now, before I finished the floor. A real
battle of the will took place. I admitted that countless opportunities had been lost because of
things I wanted to do first. Finally I said, "Okay, Lord, I'll go now!" When Delores opened her door,
she said tearfully, "How did you know I needed you right now?" I didn't, but God did, and my
surrender to Him played a part in Delores being able to trust us so we could witness to her. In Luke 9,
Jesus taught that some things can wait. That includes half-scrubbed floors-and a host of other things.
But a ripe harvest can't wait!
Then in fellowship sweet,
we will sit at His feet,
Or we'll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do,
where He sends we will go---
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Delayed Obedience is only a step
away from Disobedience.
Barbara worked for a bank. She was a nice young girl who had few friends. Worked hard. She met a young man who showed an interest in her, the first in her life. One day this person robbed the bank where she worked. When caught, he said she was the inside person, and set everything up. Because he plea bargained, he was set free and she served time! Police are working to solve crime no matter that the innocent suffer.
Paul was an honor student, had a good job and a nice car. He also fell into bad company. One night he and two friends had gone to a party, had a little to drink. While he was driving home, one of his friends said "I have to go to the bathroom," and Paul stopped at a convenience store. His friends went in, Paul stayed in the car. His friends came out and he took them home. Three days later Paul was arrested for the murder of the clerk in the store. Witnesses had seen the car and turned him in. He told police what happened and they arrested the others. They stuck together, plea bargained to a softer sentence, and sent Paul to prison for five years. The real killers served less than a year.
One out of every twenty born today will do time. Many will do hard time. For minority males, the risk is higher. A black male has a 1 in 4 chance; Hispanic 16%; and an Anglo 4.4%. Once into the prison system it is almost impossible to get out of it. Soon we will reach the two million incarcerated level. Where will we put them? Prisons are overcrowded warehouses with little rehabilitation and not much regeneration. Who cares that the bomb is ticking? Praise God, Someone Cares. If not you, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?
I WAS JUST A HAMMER
Many of you know my background, where I came from and how God brought me out. I think back now and the poem to follow will tell you who I was. The battle between Heaven and Hell went on for so long. I knew that becoming a Christian was what I needed, but giving up all Satan's world was for me a real challenge. The pushing and pulling went on for a long time until Jesus came into my heart in Mountain View, California. But I was still just a hammer trying to do better.
Then the hammer I was fell into the Carpenter's hand. To be a tool for the use of Jesus is so great that, as hard as I try to remember the person who wrote the following, I just can't find him. Praise God!
ONCE HAD DREAMS
PARADOX OF OUR TIMES
We have taller buildings, but
shorter tempers; wider freeways,
but narrower viewpoints; we spend
more, but have less; we buy more,
but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and
smaller families; more conven-
iences, but less time; we have
more degrees, but less common
sense; more knowledge, but less
judgment; more experts, but more
problems; more medicine, but less
We spend too recklessly, laugh too
little, drive too fast, get too angry
too quickly, stay up too late, get up
too tired, read too seldom, watch
TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions,
but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom
and lie too often.
We've learned how to make a
living, but not a life; we've added
years to life, not life to years.
We've been all the way to the
moon and back, but have trouble
crossing the street to meet the new
We've conquered outer space, but
not inner space; we've done larger
things, but not better things; we've
cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul;
we've split the atom, but
not our prejudice; we write more,
but learn less; plan more, but
We've learned to rush, but not to
wait; we have higher incomes; but
lower morals; more food but less
appeasement; more acquaintances,
but fewer friends; more
effort but less success.
We build more computers to hold
more information, to produce more
copies than ever, but have less
communication; we've become
long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods
and slow digestion; tall men and
short character; steep profits, and
These are the times of world
peace, but domestic warfare; more
leisure and less fun; more kinds of
food, but less nutrition. These are
days of two incomes, but more
divorce; of fancier houses, but
These are days of quick trips,
disposable diapers, throwaway
morality, one-night stands, over-
weight bodies, and pills that do
everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in
the show window, and nothing in
the stockroom. Indeed it's all true.
Think about it...read it again.
Then, let's try to make it better in
1999. Via Email
The Anatomy of a True Friend
Will always see you for the way
you really are, your true self.
Will always have them open to listen.
To always tell you the truth and
give their opinions, tell you when
you mess up or do something good.
Will offer when you need one to
cry on, will be your strength when
you find it hard to carry yourself.
Will always let you lean on them.
To love you for who you are and
not judge, Will always have a place
there for you.
To hold yours when you need a
little guidance, to lend when you
need help, and to help you up
when you may fall.
Will always make you feel
comfortable in them and to offer
hugs when you need one. Will try
to warm when you are cold.
To walk with you throughout your
life and be the best friend they can be.
ODE TO JOY
A young lady wrote us a beautiful letter, stating that she and the inmate to whom she was writing had formed a close friendship over time, and she admired the Christian qualities his letters reflected.
She decided to visit him in prison and was equally impressed with him in person. Their friendship has blossomed into a Christ-centered love for each other. Her fiancÚ is out of prison now, and they plan to be married soon.
We congratulate this dedicated young couple. Please lift them up new life together and pray for their happiness as we share their joy.
This is the third such marriage in the history of Someone Cares. One is in its eighth year, the other in its tenth. Both are solid, stable, loving marriages. Praise God that all of you care enough to make this ministry possible.
A word of caution to the single:
When signing up to be a Pen Friend, do not expect to automatically find romance, either as an inmate or as the person on the outside. It is very easy to open up too much, too fast, when you are lonely and have the anonymity of another mail box between you and the friend to whom you are writing. Keep your letters newsy when writing to inmates, and try to point your Pen Friends to Christ as their best friend. Relationships need time to bloom, just as it took a long time, this Michigan spring, for the first bulbs to open into their glorious display.
Then there are those who are genuinely seeking God in their lives as a way out of their sin and their despair. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these [other] things will be added unto you ... in HIS time.
God has blessed me with a computer tower that should never again present the uppity message "Out of Virtual Memory" and flash off line.
I'm sure Satan will continue to plague in some other area. If we were as persistent as he, and spread the gospel, we'd all be in heaven by now. For the present, my Best Friend allows me the joy of listening to the disk drives hum, shift into overdrive, and instantly pop up programs, ready to go to work. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!